Freshman midfielder Zach Waldher score four goals in two games as the Whitworth men’s team won both of their home games, beating George Fox 5-3 and Pacific 4-1. In the first game, the Bucs’ back line had a strong defensive presence, cutting off lanes to inhibit George Fox from getting into any offensive rhythm early on.
The forward line went on the attack early, as senior forward Andrew French beat his defender downfield and passed the ball through to senior midfielder Sam Selisch. Selisch finished off the play with a goal giving Whitworth the first score of the game.
In spite of the early goal, the Bruins responded with two goals from senior forward Sawyer Meek which put George Fox in the lead 2-1.
Waldher scored to tie the game at 2-2 with 15 minutes left in the first half. Whitworth continued their offensive attack with a goal four minutes later off of an open shot by sophomore forward Sam Engle.
After celebrating his second goal of the game, Engle was given his second yellow card, resulting in a red card. The Pirates were forced to proceed with only 10 players for the rest of the contest. The referee later confirmed after the game that he had made a mistake and pinned the second yellow card to Pirate defender Andrew Flint instead.
“It was a frustrating game. We gave them a few early goals, then I got a red card that made us play man down, which is always unfortunate,” Engle said. “Overall, it was good as we got through and we played well.”
Whitworth’s offense continued its relentless attack, and the loss of one player did not stop the Pirates from scoring. As the match approached 35 minutes, Waldher slid past his defender and kicked the ball into the net for his second goal of the season.
“This was a good victory. Scoring those two goals was pretty special for me,” Waldher said. “I am just happy that I got to go in and play.”
Sophomore forward Karl Muelheims scored early in the second half off of an assist from Flint to give the Pirates a 5-2 lead.
“It was an interesting game,” Muelheims said. “They gave us more of a fight than we expected because of their three goals. We just created more chances seeing as we scored on five of our opportunities.”
Four minutes after Muelheims goal, George Fox scored for the third time, but it would prove to be too little too late as the Bucs held on to win.
The Pirates outshot the Bruins 18-9 and 11-5 with shots on goal. Sophomore goalkeeper Shane Nishioka-Healy came away with two saves in the game.
“Since we only had 10 men playing for most of the game, I think we deserved the win because of how hard we had to work. It showed how bad we wanted to win,” Selisch said.
The Pirates continued their offensive production into the game against Pacific, running away with a 4-1 victory.
Despite the eventual rout of the Boxers, Pacific capitalized on their early scoring opportunities. Early on, the Boxers took the first goal with a shot right past Nishioka-Healy to give them a 1-0 lead only seven minutes into the contest.
With less than 27 minutes left in the match, Waldher tied the game up with his third goal of the season on a chain assist from French and freshman defender Rylan Berriman.
A turning point, however, came at 23 minutes left when Pacific defender Scott Manago received a red card because of a foul on French, leaving the Boxers with ten players on the field. Pacific’s offensive production from then on was limited as they did not have the numbers to be aggressive downfield.
“I was happy we got the result we wanted,” Berriman said. “We had a little luck on our side with the red card and took advantage of it.”
Senior defender Will Wren’s first goal of the season gave the Bucs a 2-1 lead.
“I was pretty pumped [from scoring the goal]. It was a good service by Frenchy,” Wren said.
With less than 20 minutes left in the game, Waldher’s fourth goal in two days gave the Pirates a 3-1 lead. The assist was credited to French as he broke through defenders and passed the ball through an open lane to Waldher.
“I thought we played pretty well. It definitely helped that they were down a man,” sophomore defender David Starkovich said. “We were able to work the ball around a lot better than the way we hoped to do.”
Whitworth’s final goal was an own-goal when a pass between two Boxers was diverted into the net.
The Pirates will continue conference play this weekend on the road against Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound.
Jessica Razanadrakoto Staff Writer
Contact Jessica Razanadrakoto at email@example.com